Portfolio tips


In this blog post I want to walk through some of the most important features a simple web design portfolio layout should contain that anyone can use.

I preach a lot about the importance of having a portfolio and its amazing how a lot of designers don’t spend time to work on their portfolio. Having a portfolio is the most important thing and the most essential thing that every designer needs. Without a portfolio you can’t land clients and you can’t land a job because no one can see your work. Everybody needs a portfolio where you can showcase examples of your work.

I get a lot of people reach out to me and ask if I can checkout their portfolio to get feedback on the look/feel and what I think of it. There’s no right or wrong on how anyone lays out their portfolio, this is subjective – it can be designed in many different ways as long as you show examples of your work. So I don’t knock anyone when I review websites but there are some fundamental practices which I recommend that I think everyone should use whether you’re just getting started or if you’re thinking of updating your site.

1. Personal branding

Your name is your brand, so it important to get this across right off the bat. You want to build yourself a good reputation with a unique identity using your name. Using a company name is fine, just as long as it is associated with you. Ideally you want to have a photo of yourself on the About page with a short description about yourself and your skills and expertise. This gives the site a personal connection to whoever is viewing the site while at the same time, establishing a trust for any potential future clients.

2. Portfolio work

If I’m a recruiter, if I’m a person that is interested into seeing some of your work and you sent me your portfolio, the UX should be explanatory and easy. Pretty much 100% of the user base in the world understands that when you see a thumbnail, they’re clickable. Clicking on a thumbnail will take you to a larger, full-size view the example you want to show and what you do is you stack a screenshot of the work you’ve done vertically. You many want to include a short paragraph explaining the rationale behind the work but there is no need to include live view of the full working version since the focus is on the design aesthetics.

3. Design

The styling of your portfolio site should reflect a simple, straight to the point highlight of your work. The layout should be setup for a responsive design that works on both desktop and mobile device. The portfolio should highlight your best work. There is no point putting up all your work if they are not up to the highest standards. If you have three amazing pieces design up and one average design up, that one average can reduce your overall appreciation. If you’ve done work for any blue-chip company, use this to your advantage and as a selling tool.

Finally, let your work focus on one aspect of the area your specialise in and champion it. If you’re a creative art designer, show print, logo and banner designs. If you’re a visual designer, show web/mobile, and user interface designs. If you’re a developer, be sure to post live links to the site.

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